The USS Muliphen AKA-61 was constructed by the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Kearny, New Jersey, and was laid down on May 13, 1944, under contract by the Maritime Commission. She was sponsored by Mrs. John Hascock and launched on August 26. The Navy acquisitioned this Andromeda-class attack cargo ship on October 21. She was put into commission on October 23, with Lieutenant Commander Walter W. Williamson chosen to captain.
Service in World War II
She did her shakedown duties in the Chesapeake Bay and was called to Key West on December 1 to join their Sound School. She was then sent to the waters of the Pacific on December 14 to be a part of Transport Division 43 in Hawaii near Pearl Harbor. She made her way toward Iwo Jima to get ready for the battle there, landing in Eniwetok on February 5, 1945. She got to Iwo Jima two weeks later and remained there until her crew disembarked on March 4, when they made their way to Saipan.
Her journey to Okinawa began on March 27. The navy staged a fake landing on April Fool’s Day, and then another the next day. The ship then stayed in Okinawa, and on April 10 made her way to Saipan. Between the Solomons and Marianas, she also did some cargo duty. On September 18, she arrived at Manila with underwater demolition gear. She acted as a transport for troops for the next the months, carrying them from Japan to the Philippines before being called home to Seattle, Washington, on November 24.
After the War
For the next four years she worked for the Naval Transportation Service. She transported troops and supplies to Pacific and Asiatic ports. She also took supplies to Point Barrow, Alaska, for the two years after that. The Muliphen was then sent to Norfolk in 1950 to join the Atlantic Amphibious Force Fleet. For the next ten years she was regularly sent to the Mediterranean and Caribbean. She also took part in amphibious duties and landings at Beirut, Lebanon. This was an emergency prompted by a Communist-coup attempt that she and the 6th Fleet prevented. In the early 1960s, she continued the same duties. She also trained Navy personnel, and helped out with NATO exercises.
The USS Muliphen was finally put out of commission on August 28, 1970, and put into reserve. Struck from Navy lists on January 1, 1977, she was finally sunk off Port St. Lucie, Florida as an artificial reef. The ship was awarded two battle stars for her service during the war.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, some auxiliary vessels also posed a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention in order to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.